Pragmatic status of technical science - History, philosophy...

1.3. Pragmatic status of technical science

The scientific nature of the technical knowledge is constantly being questioned. This is all the more surprising because we are not talking about opponents, but about adherents of such knowledge.

Professor Mark De Vries stresses: "... Today, most technologists of technology adhere to the idea that technical knowledge is different from scientific knowledge. But how it differs from scientific knowledge, has not yet been described in any detail. "

In our opinion, the refined technical and technical knowledge has a clearly expressed conceptual character and, therefore, does not differ from science. Let's try to justify this position.

In the previous paragraph, taking into account the achievements of all known sciences, we analyzed the conceptual content of the scientific theory. If technology did not operate with those concepts that are part of developed scientific knowledge, then it would be right to emphasize its non-scientific status. In fact, in technology, all concepts typical of science, are used, from hypothetical principles and laws to empirical facts and inductive laws. In any technical theory, it is not difficult to find the connections between the variables that just represent scientific laws. There is, for example, a certain relationship between: a) the voltage on the primary and secondary coils of the transformer; b) the engine power of the car and the possibilities of its starting acceleration; c) the computer clock speed and its speed. In all these cases, we are talking about laws. If they are not specified, then the law is hypothetical. Otherwise we are dealing with an inductive law. But, of course, the core of the technical theory is the corresponding principles. For example, in any technical theory, they are guided by the efficiency principle, which is the concretization of the principle of expected utility. In accordance with the stated goal, the desired parameters of a particular technical device or technical system are determined, and thus the principle of efficiency acquires the necessary certainty.


Perhaps, for example, that the researcher will be most interested in the efficiency of the transformer (we do not give the formula for its calculation). The researcher will be guided by the principle of maximizing the expected efficiency of the transformer. Other things being equal, a technologist will always prefer a transformer with the highest efficiency. But it is quite possible that this requirement will come into conflict with the goal. Suppose that we are talking about a transformer that enters the system of an elementary particle accelerator. Here, the ability of the transformer to withstand overvoltages is of great importance, which depends critically on the electrical strength of the insulation. Presumably, the researcher will strive to determine those proportions between the efficiency of the transformer, the electrical strength of the insulation and the ability to withstand the stresses that provide the desired mode of operation for the particle accelerator.

So, the technical theory has all the typical scientific concepts. Above this circumstance is noted in relation to principles and laws, but, obviously, there is no need to prove that models and facts are included in the technical theory. Thus, technical science has conceptual sophistication.

As a rule, researchers who doubt the scientific nature of technical science tend to belittle pragmatics in favor of semantics and syntactics. They recognize the scientific nature of the last two, but not pragmatists. Consider in this connection the nature of the arguments of the orthodox supporters of syntactics, semantics, and also pragmatics. We call them, respectively, syntaxists, semantists and pragmatists.

A syntaxist, as a rule, follows certain ideals of logic and mathematics. Often, he admires the logical consequence (implication), in which truth flows from premises to conclusions. The typical reasoning of a syntaxist is this: if A is followed by B, and A is true, then B is also true. The sequence is usually written as A -> In. Scientists who evaluate logical follow-up as an unsurpassed scientific ideal tend to ignore the numerous problematic aspects of logic and mathematics. With the axiomatic method, axioms and inference rules are continually revised, new restrictive theorems are proved, errors are found in the evidence that was previously considered to be flawless. Thus, there is no reason for every possible praise of logical and mathematical necessity.

For a semantist, the subject of pride is the ability to describe what is. It means that the existing being does not depend on the person; his independence provides an objective criterion for the truth of theoretical propositions. Claiming that in a free fall in the absence of air resistance, the bodies move with different accelerations, will be confounded by the results of the experiments. The truth of deductive laws is verified experimentally. Ideals of the semantist are the objectivity and invariability of laws. With these ideals, he is inclined to evaluate pragmatic sciences, in particular technical science. Of course, it is impossible to prove that the ideals of one type of sciences, in this case semantic, must be mechanically transferred to another type of knowledge, namely, pragmatic. In addition, the semantist tends to underestimate the difficulties of the process of cognition in the descriptive sciences. In any of them, for example in physics, knowledge is problematic, as evidenced by the continuous improvement of theories, and this means that there is no absolute criterion of truth in descriptive sciences. The principles and laws of the objects of descriptive sciences do not depend on people, but they are never known to them in their final form. This is an extremely relevant moment for assessing the status of descriptive sciences, which indicates their problematic nature. This circumstance by a semantist inclined to extol the irreproachability of the descriptive sciences is underestimated.

An appeal to the philosophy of technical science compels us to stand in the position of a defender of pragmatic knowledge. The philosophy of technical science does not exclude the recognition of the inconsistency of the pragmatist's position, which imposes formal and semantic sciences on ideals that are not peculiar to them. The pragmatist quite reasonably believes that any science is a purely human pragmatic exercise. Starting from this idea, he then concludes that in every science they are guided by norms (values), which means that contrary to widely held opinions, the true status of formal and axiological sciences is pragmatic. The pragmatist misunderstands that the goal of scientific research does not necessarily have to be the values ​​of people, because in the long run, for example, a naturalist is interested in the determinateness of the natural world, rather than preferences of a social perspective. Descriptive knowledge is detachable from the values ​​of people, as evidenced unequivocally, in particular, the status of microphysics and molecular biology. And formal knowledge is separable from pragmatic: to see this, it is enough to turn to books on logic and mathematics.

So, it is inadmissible when evaluating the status of one of the types of sciences to be guided by the criteria characteristic of another type of sciences. These criteria, due to their specificity, refer only to one type of sciences, and not to all at once. Consider, for example, descriptiveness (descriptiveness) as a scientific criterion: it is characteristic for descriptive, but not for formal and pragmatic sciences. But what are the actual grounds for classifying different conceptual systems for science? This is a conceptual transduction. It is typical for all types of sciences, speaking in each of them in a special form.

Historical excursion

To characterize technical science , the comprehension of two paradoxical situations, highlighted in the 18th century, is of topical significance. Scottish philosopher David Hume, who possessed an acute critical mind. Firstly, he doubted that a consequence could be deduced from the cause. According to his argument, it is established experimentally that the consequence happens after the cause, but after does not mean due to. Secondly, Hume noted: many authors, arguing about what is, arbitrarily pass to what should be. In the context of the problem of interest to us, this means that it is impossible to derive a pragmatic theory from descriptive science. However, this circumstance is continually ignored.

Hume's criticisms of understanding the cause-effect relationship, according to Immanuel Kant, awakened him from dogmatic sleep. He pointed out that the theory begins with principles, in accordance with the content of which then empirical data are interpreted. According to Kant, a cause-and-effect relationship exists in spite of Hume, but it does not appear directly in the experiment, but is prescribed to him by the principles that are necessary for his interpretation.

This reaction of Kant to Hume's criticism satisfied many researchers. However, it seems to us that the Hume problem should also be considered in an interdisciplinary aspect. Logic and physicist argue that from A follows in (A -> B). What they understand by should - the same or fundamentally different content? Let us assume that the physicist, within the framework of the dynamic theory, considers the interaction of elementary particles or any other bodies. Its interpretation is dynamic: in this case, the should we mean dynamic a relationship that is implemented through a certain interaction mechanism. Logic and mathematician under should understand the implication (lat implicado - plex, from implico - I closely connect). Assume that the function A (x + 3 = 5) is given, which implies In (x = 2 ). In this case, the implication is a functional relation that does not bear any trace of that dynamic relationship that expresses the nature of the physical interaction.

Let us now consider the relation of interest that is of interest to us in relation to technical science. In this area, it is value-oriented. In accordance with certain values ​​(norms1), some goals are being developed, which presupposes the technical activity of a person to achieve them. For example, for the supply of people with electrical energy, its sources, including nuclear power plants, are produced. The initial link here is a specific value - the need for electrical energy, which determines the need to produce an energy source. In this case, the relationship retained in the symbolic form as A - & gt; C. It is clear that the value-goal relationship is not dynamic in the physical sense of the word. Consider four relationships:

The first attitude is a record in the general form of the three others, in the absence of them it is untenable. The second relation is formal, for example, logical or mathematical. The third attitude is of a physical nature, the fourth is pragmatic, including technical. Thus, we can leave the relation (1) at rest and turn to the analysis of the relations (2), (3), (4).

Does the relation (2), be it of a logical or mathematical nature, determine the status of any empirical science? In no way, and the development of science in the XX century. testifies to this. When it became clear that quantum mechanics is incompatible with traditional logic, in particular, with the law of the excluded third, the logic invented the so-called quantum logic. When it became clear that all pragmatic sciences needed a special logical tool, the logic of evaluations was invented. The situation with logical comprehension of the sciences is as follows. First, there is no universal logical system that is adequate for all existing sciences. This means that the logical system must to a certain extent express the characteristics of the science with which it relates. Secondly, the sensitivity of logic to theoretical systems of another orientation has definite limits. Excessively, for example, to assert that the logical implication expresses the features of dynamic and value determinism. Thirdly, there is no science that would conflict with logic: the lack of harmony between them is always a transitory state. The contact between logic and other disciplines does not come automatically, but due to consciously carrying out the operation of logical modeling. The situation is approximately the same in the case of mathematics, but this time we have to turn instead of logical to mathematical modeling.

Unfortunately, many authors represent the connection of logic with other sciences, including with technical science, rather superficially. In the scientific literature, the point of view on the scientific explanation of the neopositivist K. Hempel, the logic of specialization, has been discussed for a number of times. He insisted on the validity of only two types of explanation: deductive-nomological and inductive-nomological. In both cases, the explained phenomenon (explandinum) is brought under a certain enveloping law (explant). The deductive explanation boils down to an implication understood as flawless; necessary, logical deducibility. With an inductive explanation, the role of embracing fulfills the probability law, therefore the explanandum follows from the explorer with some probability. According to Hempel, both in natural science and in social science the scientific explanation must be nomological, there is no other way.

This position was met with strong objections from social philosophers, in particular the Canadian W. Dray. Social philosophers noted that in the schemes of Hempel's explanation there are no intentions, desires, goals, i.e. all that is characteristic of the representative, as many researchers and historians have expressed. The opposing sides occupied irreconcilable positions with respect to each other. Hempel insisted on the dilemma: either the explanation is nomological, or it is irrational. In the second case, representatives of pragmatic disciplines were threatened with excommunication from the sciences. It was meant that all their arguments about intentions, intentions and goals decisively diminish the relevance of the concept of scientific law. Social philosophers refused to confer on them a dubious title of irrationalists. They argued that explanation by intent is also rational, but their argument to the overwhelming majority of logicians seemed unconvincing. The situation changed dramatically for the better after turning to the topic of scientific explanation of the authoritative Finnish logic G. von Vritt.

Georg Henrik von Wrigt believed that "practical syllogism is that model of explanation that has been so long absent in the methodology of human sciences and that it is a genuine alternative to the model of explanation through the law" 1. The practical syllogism, or practical conclusion, consists in the following: 5 intends to implement p. He believes that he will not be able to carry out p, if he does not do a. Therefore, 5 is taken for the implementation of a. Practical syllogism is the answer to the question: what and why should one do to achieve the goal? Von Wright distinguishes the practical conclusion from the objective, teleological explanation. In this case, the focus is on the goal. The teleological explanation answers the question: why this, and not another goal, has been put? Subject 5 in accordance with its intention b sets a goal with. Von Wright believes that, in contrast to the teleological explanation, the practical conclusion can be presented in an impeccable from the logical point of view. It was for this that he, and after him and many other authors, developed the de-logical logic with the operators characteristic for it "allowed", "forbidden", "necessarily", "indifferent". The absolute majority of logicians believe that the concept of truth refers to the description of the present state of things, i.e. is semantic. If we are talking about norms, actions and goals, then they should be distinguished from each other, guided by the criterion of not truth, but efficiency (success). Efficiency, unlike truth, is not a semantic, but a pragmatic concept.

F. von Wright should be given credit for the desire to protect the dignity of pragmatic sciences before the logical community. He tried to take into account the views of the authors not only of an analytical nature, as a rule, well-qualified in logic, but also of the hermeneutical tendency, who are prone to criticism of rationalism. Nevertheless, even with this condition, von Wright was not able to avoid logicalism. He manifested itself particularly clearly in two respects: first, in the denial of pragmatic laws, and secondly, in the inadequate understanding of the whole arrangement of pragmatic sciences. Following many other logicians, von Wrigt commits a typical mistake for them, which is that in the triad logic-logical modeling-pragmatic science does not properly take into account the middle link. In this case, pragmatic science is identified with logic, which is inadmissible.

F. von Wrigt believed that the practical conclusion is not an explanation "through the law". He believed that the law is a universal stable relationship between variables that does not change under any circumstances. There are really no such laws in the pragmatic sciences, for people are reconsidering their values. But, strictly speaking, the law is any connection between variables that takes place in the theory. These links in any pragmatic science abound, with a full explanation always includes references to the law. For example, if the driver warms up the motor, it does so insofar as it prolongs the time of its normal functioning. Two variables - the temperature of the motor and the time of its normal functioning - are interrelated, and the driver takes into account this circumstance.

The opposition von Vritt teleological explanation to the practical conclusion seems unproductive. In all pragmatic sciences, including in technical science, there is a conceptual transduction. We can say that we are talking about the transduction of pragmatic concepts. Calling such an explanation teleological is untenable, for in this case the concept concept is absolutized and it is not understood that the basis of the goal is values. Instead of a teleological explanation, it is better to talk about the value-objective explanation, but it should be explained that this explanation is realized as a transduction of pragmatic concepts. As for the practical conclusion, the emphasis is on the means that are necessary to achieve the goal. The conceptual richness of pragmatic sciences is again expressed only to an insignificant degree.

So, a pragmatic explanation appears as a transduction of pragmatic concepts, principles, laws, values, goals. It is essential that a special concept of truth is characteristic of pragmatic sciences. The most impressive example of the definition of pragmatic truth was given by the American logician Richard Montague: "O is considered true in I if and only if f is true in all worlds, and being preferred", where Of is read as " strong> F & quot ;, I - the original world. However, the absolute majority of logicians prefer not to use the term pragmatic truth & quot ;, but discuss semantics of possible worlds.

When speaking of the concept of truth, one must clearly distinguish logical truth from truth in natural science and social science. In logic there is nothing but logic. This alone is sufficient to reject in its context such terms as "semantic truth" or "pragmatic truth". Otherwise, it seems that logic contains the semantics of natural science and the pragmatics of social science. But it would be wrong to avoid reasoning about semantics and pragmatics as part of logic. Indeed, there are such logical systems that are acceptable only for the interpretation of normative theories, and for this in one form or another the term "pragmatic" is needed. We see from the discussed situation only one way out, namely: a clear distinction between logical pragmatic truth from (non-logical) pragmatic truth.

Logical pragmatic truth is characteristic of those logics that are acceptable for modeling pragmatic sciences, including engineering.

Pragmatic logic has a formal character, it does not even mention the values ​​(norms) of informal pragmatic sciences, in particular technical science. It allows us to express the nature of pragmatic syllogism and practical inference as formal operations.

Thus, logical pragmatics should not be identified with pragmatics as such.

The common tendency among the logicians to avoid the term "pragmatic truth" hardly deserves approval in view of the obvious fact: only selected systems are productive for modeling pragmatic sciences. Consider the question of the legitimacy, if not complete, then at least a partial description of the pragmatic system in terms of semantics. At first glance, it seems that the semantic and pragmatic descriptions are perfectly compatible with each other.


Compare two sentences:

1. "It is necessary to improve the safety of nuclear reactors."

2. "Last year, the safety of nuclear reactors was increased."

The first sentence is clearly normative, it indicates what should be. The second sentence does not contain normative estimates and, therefore, is a description, i.e. purely semantic act.

The above example seems to clearly show in favor of conjugation of semantic and pragmatic sentences, but such impression is deceptive. The corresponding illusion arises insofar as the context of the proposals taken separately for analysis is not considered. In science, any sentence is in the structure of a particular theory and it is through this that it acquires this or that meaning: formal, semantic or pragmatic. A separate proposal represents a theory in the most degenerate form: judging its true content becomes difficult. All the suggestions of the theory are permeated with its meaning, which, in the first place, is given by the corresponding principle. In physics, all sentences are semantic, in technical science, on the contrary, they are pragmatic.

Back to the proposal "Last year, the safety of nuclear reactors" was increased. " There is a speech act, undertaken for some purpose. If this act was connected with the discussion of the problems of nuclear energy, then it had a normative meaning, as it is supposed to be improved. If, however, this speech act occurred at a conference of physicists, he, it is likely, will eventually be involved in a chain of semantic interpretations. A linguist can take the sentence under consideration for parsing, then it will do without semantics, and without pragmatics.

Thus, in the pragmatic theory there is no semantics. Insecure attempts not only to inform pragmatic sciences in semantic theories, but also to include semantics in pragmatics. Researchers who seek to establish the unity of the semantic and pragmatic sciences do not take into account their fundamental differences from each other. This error is also committed by those authors who claim: a) or that technical science is an extension of natural science; b) or that technical science is the restriction of natural science. Both concepts - continued and Restriction - have a predominantly not intensive, but extensive character, which makes it impossible to express development, the leap that leads to the formation of technical sciences.

Thus, when characterizing the nature of technical science, one should proceed from its own content, without imposing on it the ideals of other sciences, for example, logic, mathematics, physics, because otherwise it is necessary to deal with undesirable isms, in particular logicism, panmatismatism and physicalism. When characterizing the status of any science, including technical science, its connections with other scientific disciplines should be taken into account, but since each science has its own difference, its reduction to other sciences is not justified. Such a reduction is often carried out gradually, in two stages, unnoticed even for its authors. For example, act this way. First, they interpret the general philosophy of science, in particular the nature of laws, from the standpoint of logic. Then, from the positions of the logically interpreted philosophy of science, they give a description of technical science. In the end, it turns out a real logic. It can not be recognized, because it is woven into the general philosophy of science. Wishing to clarify the matter, we had to turn to the characterization of a number of logical concepts.


1. Formalism, for example, logicism and pan-mathematics, as well as semantism, in particular physicalism, are untenable in interpreting the status of engineering.

2. Technological sciences differ from formal and descriptive (semantic) sciences.

3. Technological sciences are thoroughly pragmatic, axiological.

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